It is not that we think that in the practical order of revolutionary struggle
his death is to have immediate repercussions, it is that El Che, upon taking up
arms again, was not thinking about an immediate victory, he was not thinking
about a swift victory against the forces of the oligarchies and of imperialism.
His experienced guerrilla mind was trained for a long struggle of 5, 10, 15 or
20 years if necessary.
And he was ready to struggle 5, 10, 15, 20 years, his whole life, if necessary,
and it is with this time perspective that his death – his example, I ought to
say – will have a tremendous repercussion, will have an invincible influence.
In vain they try to deny his ability as a commander and his experience, those
who cling to the stroke of luck. Che was a military commander who was
extraordinarily capable, but when we remember El Che, when we think about El
Che, we are not thinking basically about his military virtues. No, for war is a
means to an end, war is a tool of revolutionaries. What is important is
revolution, what is important is the revolutionary cause, the revolutionary
ideas, the revolutionary objectives, the revolutionary sentiments, the
revolutionary virtues. And it is in this field, in the field of ideas, in the
field of sentiments, in the field of revolutionary virtues, in the filed of
intelligence, aside from his military virtues, that we feel the tremendous loss
for the revolutionary movement, because Che, in his extraordinary personality,
had virtues which rarely appear together. He was outstanding as an incomparable
man of action. Che was not only an incomparable man of action, but a man of
profound intellect, of visionary intelligence, a man of profound culture. I mean
to say he was a man of ideas and a man of action.
However, it is not just that he was both a man of profound ideas and a man of
action, but that as a revolutionary he had the virtues which could be defined as
the most full-fledged expression of the virtues of a revolutionary, and integral
man in the fullest sense of the word, a man of supreme honesty, of absolute
sincerity, a man of stoic and Spartan life, a man in whose conduct practically
no fault can be found. Because of his virtues he was what can be called a true
model of a revolutionary. Speeches can be made when men die, virtues can be
pointed out, but few are the times when, as on this occasion, what we say about
Che, who was a true example of revolutionary virtues, can be said with more
justice, more exactitude.
In addition, he had another quality which is not a quality of the intellect,
which is not a quality of will, which is not a quality derived from experience,
struggle, but a quality of heart. He was an extraordinarily humane man,
extraordinarily sensitive. That is why we say that, when we think about his
life, when we think about his conduct, this was the case of a very rare man,
because he was able to blend in his personality not only the characteristics of
a man of action but also those of a thinking man, a man of shining revolutionary
virtues and extraordinary human sensitivity blended with a character of iron, a
steel will, and indomitable tenacity.
That is why he was willed to future generations not only his experience, his
knowledge as an outstanding soldier, but also the work of his intelligence. He
wrote with the virtuosity of a classicist of the language. His narrations of the
war are unsurpassable. The profundity of his thinking is impressive. He
absolutely never wrote on anything without extraordinary seriousness, without
We do not doubt that some of his writings will pass on to posterity as classical
documents of revolutionary thinking. And so, as a fruit of that vigorous and
profound intelligence, he left us an infinite number of memories and stories
which, without his work, his effort, would perhaps be forgotten forever.
A tireless worker in the years that he was at the service of our country, he did
not know one single day or rest. Many responsibilities were assigned to him,
such as the presidency of the national bank, the directorship of the planning
board, the Ministry of Industry, as a commander of military regions, as a chief
of delegations of a political, economic or fraternal type. His multifaceted
intelligence was capable of undertaking any task with a maximum of assurance in
any field, in any way of thinking. And thus he represented our country in a
brilliant manner in many international conferences. In the same manner that he
brilliantly led soldiers in combat, in the same way he was a model worker in any
of the institutions to which he was assigned.
For him there were no days of rest, no hours of rest. If we looked at his office
window the lights burned until late at night. He was studying or, better said,
was working because he studied all the problems. He was a tireless reader. His
thirst for knowledge was practically insatiable, and the hours he did not sleep,
he studied. He dedicated regular days off to volunteer work. He was the
inspiration and the top promoter of that work which today occupies hundreds of
thousands of persons throughout the nation. He was the promoter of that activity
which daily grows stronger among the masses of our people.
As a revolutionary, as a communist revolutionary, really communist, he had
infinite faith in moral values, he had infinite faith in the conscience of men
and – we ought to say it – in his conception he saw with absolute clarity that
morality was the basic fulcrum for the construction of communism in human
He thought, developed, and wrote about many things. And there is something that
ought to be said on a day like this. It is that Che’s writings, Che’s political
and revolutionary thoughts, will have a permanent value in the Cuban
revolutionary process and the revolutionary process of Latin America. And we
have no doubt that the value of his ideas – of his ideas as a man of action, as
a man of thought, as a man of proved moral virtues, as a man of extreme human
sensitivity, as a man of irreproachable conduct – have and shall have universal
The imperialists sing victory songs over the fact of the guerrilla killed in
combat. The imperialists sing of victory over the stroke of fortune which led
them to eliminate such a formidable man of action. However, the imperialists
perhaps ignore or pretend to ignore the fact that the quality and personality of
this fighter, man of action, was one of many facets. It is a question of pain –
we feel pain not only over what has been lost in terms of a man of action, we
feel pain over what has been lost in terms of a virtuous man; we feel pain over
what has been lost in terms of a man of exquisite human sensitivity; and we feel
pain over the intelligence which has been lost. It pains us to think that he was
only 39 at the moment of his death. It pains us to think of how many of the
fruits of that intelligence and that experience, which was developing all the
time, we have lost the chance to perceive.
We have ideas of the dimension of the loss to the revolutionary movement.
Nevertheless, this is the weak side of the imperialist enemy. Thinking that,
along with the physical man, it has liquidated his virtues; thinking that, along
with the physical man, it has liquidated his example. And they do not hesitate
in publishing in such an impudent manner, as the most natural thing in the
world, the circumstances – now almost universally accepted –in which he was
executed by them after having been seriously wounded in battle. They have not
even reflected on the loathsomeness of the action. They have not even reflected
on the impudence of the admission. And they have publicized, as the right of the
thugs, they have reported, as the right of the oligarchs and the mercenaries,
the act of firing at a revolutionary fighter who was seriously wounded. What is
worse is that they also explained why they did it, claiming that it would have
required an overwhelming process to try him; claiming that it would have been
impossible to place such a revolutionary in the dock of a court. Not only that,
they also have no hesitated in secreting his remains. And, true or false, it is
a fact that they announce having cremated his body, thereby demonstrating their
fear, thereby demonstrating that (?they believe that) by liquidating the
physical life of the fighter, they liquidate his ideas and liquidate his
Che did not fall defending any interest, defending any cause other than the
cause or the exploited and the oppressed in this continent. Che did not fall
defending any cause other than the cause of the poor, the humble, of this land.
And the exemplary manner and the selfishness with which he defended that cause
are not even debated by his greatest enemies. Before history, the men who acted
as he did, the men who do everything and give everything for the cause for the
humble, become greater with every passing day; they enter deeper into the hearts
of the peoples with every passing day. And the imperialist enemies are already
beginning to perceive this. They will not be long to realize that his death will
in the long run be like a seed from which will emerge many men determined to
emulate him, many men determined to follow his example. And we are absolutely
convinced that the revolutionary cause in this continent will recover from the
blow, that the revolutionary cause in this continent will not be defeated by
From the revolutionary standpoint, from the standpoint of our duty, how should
we view Che’s example? Do we perhaps believe we have lost him? It is true that
we will not again see new writings. It is true that we will not again hear his
voice. But Che has left the world a patrimony, a great patrimony. And from that
patrimony we who know him so intimately can to a considerable degree be his
heirs. He left us his revolutionary thoughts. He left us his revolutionary
virtues. He left us his character, his will, his tenacity, his spirit for work.
In a word, he left us his example. And Che’s example should be a model for our
people. Che’s example should be the ideal model for our people.
If we want to say how we want our revolutionary fighters, our militants, our men
to be, we should say without any hesitation: Let them be like Che.
If we want to say how we want the men of future generations to be, we should
say: Let them be like Che.
If we want to say how we want our children to be educated, we should say without
hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che’s spirit.
If we want a model of a man, a model of a man who does not belong to this time,
a model of a man who belongs to future times, from the hearts, I say that the
model, without a single blemish in its conduct, without a single blemish in its
attitude, without a single blemish in its actions – that model is Che.
If we want to know how we want our children to be, we should say, with all our
(revolutionary mind) and heart: We want them to be like Che.
Che has become a model of man not only for our nation, but for any Latin
American nation. Che raised revolutionary stoicism, the spirit of revolutionary
sacrifice, the combativeness, the working spirit of the revolutionary to their
highest expression. Che gave the ideas of Marxism-Leninism their freshest,
purest, most revolutionary expression. No man like him in these times has raised
the spirit of proletarian internationalism to its highest level. And when one
speaks of a proletarian internationalism and when one seeks an example of a
proletarian internationalist, that example, above any other example, is the
example of Che.
In his mind and in his heart, the flags, the prejudices, the chauvinisms, the
egoisms had disappeared. He was willing to shed generously his blood for the
fortune of any people, for the cause of any people. He was ready to shed it
freely, ready to shed it instantly. And so his blood was shed in this land where
he was wounded in various battles. His blood was shed in Bolivia for the
redemption of the exploited and the oppressed, the humble and the poor. That
blood was shed for all the exploited, for all the oppressed. That blood was shed
for all the peoples of America, and it was shed for Vietnam, because he knew
that, in fighting against imperialism there, he was offering Vietnam the highest
expression of his solidarity.
That is why, comrade ladies and gentlemen of the revolution, we should look to
the future with firmness and determination. That is why we should look to the
future with optimism, and we will always seek inspiration in Che’s example,
inspiration for struggle, inspiration for tenacity, inspiration for
intransigence before the enemy, and inspiration for internationalism sentiment.
That is why we, on this night, after this impressive ceremony, after this
incredible – because of its magnitude, discipline and devotion – mass
demonstration of recognition, which shows that this is a sensitive people, which
shows that this is an appreciative people, which shows that this people knows
how to pay homage to the memory of the courageous men who fall in battle, which
shows that this people knows how to acknowledge those who serve it, which
demonstrates how this people supports the revolutionary struggle, how this
people raises and will always keep high the revolutionary banners and the
revolutionary principles – today, at this moment of commemoration, we shall
elevate our thoughts and, with optimism in the future, with absolute optimism
about the final victory of the peoples, tell Che and, along with him, the heroes
who fought and fell with him: to victory always! Fatherland or death, we shall
- Fidel Castro's Eulogy for Che Guevara